Sunday, July 26, 2015


My computer tower lived on the floor,upright, under my desk. It occupied the space in front of a neatly contained bunch of wires connecting the printer, speakers, keyboard, internet antenna and screen. As soon as the wires left the velcro constraint it exploded into a snarled mess like a nightmare fishing line.  The thing that happened to change all this was a certain cat who decided to mark his territory and let the the tower have  it...right through the perforated side  G. came in and we opened it up and with paper towels and spray cleaner we quickly mopped it out. It worked for a while but the insult was too great and it quit. had it repaired 2x and gave up. The motherboard was damaged.
I decided to get rid of the wires and bought a sensible PC , I don't do games.  In just a few years much has been improved.  It's like having a new car. Lots of stuff to explore.
The fields here on the farm are looking like Eden. I go into the cooler and see what I am having for supper.  I have a bigger selection than a grocery store. I wish summer wasn't so short.
Corn is never stored so if I don't pick it myself or get out to the barn early morning, I don't get any. Pickled pint jars of my favorite beets, the long red Forano. Also, put up many 1/2 pts of raspberry jam. I took out half the seeds and it's like raspberry pudding. Lovely on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In my opinion, comfort food such as Wonder bread or equivalent is compulsory for a PB&J. Excellent whole grain bread steals the flavor f the add-ons.  It is a retro sandwich after all. Reeks of the 40s and 50s right along with bobby sox, cuffed dungarees, and my father's shirt. After that era I wore brown pin-wale corduroys, button-down oxford, Shetland pullover, a corduroy blazer and Capezios.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spring, forward

One of the Stillman Farm orchards 

Seems to be more activity this year to do with the arts in this area. I jokingly, with wishful thinking, said to a friend, 'maybe the area will become the art center of Massachusetts.'  Right now the claim to that fame is The Cape or The North Shore or Amherst / Northampton region and The Berkshires. 
  Cape Cod, of course is noted for the visual arts although they do have a summer playhouse. Apparently writers go there to contact their muse.
 The Berkshires has Moma, Norman Rockwell Museum, Chester Daniel French Museum (sculpture), Jacob's Pillow (dance) and the summer res. of The Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, and Edith Wharton's place The Mount in Lenox. So that's a popular area for New York artists, writers, musicians in the summer. 
 Naturally, Boston is the cultural center with the Fine Arts, Gardner and Moma Museums plus all the art schools(colleges) and nearby Lincoln has the DeCordova and Concord has claims to the writers of olde-Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott etc. Longfellow used to hang out in Sudbury next door. 
 The North Shore has Cape Ann, Marblehead and Newburyport-attracting, seascape artists with their fishing ports. 
 Northampton/ Amherst, which is between Central Mass and the Berkshires, has The Five Colleges; they attract everything there.
 We are in the middle and have had to struggle for acknowledgement. People in the east think we are next to New York, well, they think anyone west of route 495 is New York. People in the western area think we are next to the ocean. We are just the glue that holds the two together. Nobody gives a fig about glue unless it fails. The glue wants to be recognized.
 So why do I imagine Central Mass could attract the arts? We've got lovely scenery and farms. Lots of farms producing milk, ice cream,cheese of all varieties, wine, maple syrup, meat, fruits and vegetables, sheep and alpaca wool,  and derivatives of all these in a craft vein, ie.,finished products like hats and mittens, soap, candles...
 A half to three quarters of an hour away is Worcester-the Art Museum, Mechanics Hall, Tower Hill Botanical Gardens and a couple of live theatres.
Live theatres--Barre has one. It's in the geographical center of the state, and Sturbridge has one. Ware has Studio 13, an art  teaching facility with live music on weekends. Petersham, Barre and Spencer have art guilds. Brimfield has The Hitchcock Academy where artists can go and paint-they also offer music lessons. All the libraries offer lectures/ workshops.
 It just seems this year there is more activity for artists, illustrators, writers and musicians here. We have many, many talented people already plying their trade while living here. I bet most of the general public has no idea of the quiet fame and accomplishments these folks have. Maybe they want it that way.
 I have been invited to sign my books at Color fest in North Brookfield on June 20th. That is a collection of artists, writers and musicians to benefit a new land trust in that town. Also in June, in West Brookfield I will be signing and selling my books at the library.  In Barre in July I will be giving a talk on agriculture, specifically CSA and reading from my book. 
 In August I am taking Amtrac to Red Wing, Minnesota to a Boomgaarden family reunion in Kenyon which is where I wrote 'Up In Smoke".

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A New (Ad)venture

After searching for a venue in the Central Mass. area, I found a room at  The New Braintree Historical Society where I can hold morning art classes for adults. I have taught before in various campgrounds when I was on the road so I know I enjoy this sort of thing. I love to see people discover they can put down on paper, something that looks like what it is supposed to. I like having people learn to see what they are looking at. I like working with pastels for this sort of workshop because right away it is colorful and budding artists can get right into it and moosh it around and layer color on top of color with out having to wait for it to dry or bleed into other areas. They can work fast or slowly. It is forgiving, it is very portable but it can be messy on hands and clothes so old duds are important and hands are soap and water wash up. Pastels are portable to take into 'the field' on a trip or just to have on hand if you have a little time to kill and you want to record a location.  This is an old medium used by the old Renaissance artists and the modern Impressionists. It is rapidly gaining in popularity.   Good pastels are nearly entirely all pigment with just enough binder to hold the powder together in a stick. Cheap pastels usually have more filler like chalk and are discouraging to use because you don't get the intensity of color you may be looking for.  By cheap i don't mean 'on sale'. Some great brands go on sale from time to time.  Good brands include Rembrandt($$), Sennelier, Schminke, Daniel Smith and the cheaper but good-Faber/Castell. Art supply house brands can be good like Dick Blick and Utrecht and I will try Walmarts house brand and let you know. Pastels come in round crayon type shapes or square which I like for achieving sharp edges. They come in roughly 3" sticks or half sticks. Half sticks are fine. Two types  are called soft and hard.  We will use soft. There are pastel pencils which I like for fine detail work. They are hard.  Pastels can be in powder form in little tubs with an applicator or a fine sponge. Brand name Pan Pastels.  All this is soap and water wash up for hands but some colors stain clothes. Be advised. Some professionals use disposable gloves. I like to rub it around to work it into the paper. I haven't used gloves but I'm thinking about it.
Pastel still life

This is an excerpt from DanielSmith - making pastels website. You might enjoy the entire article.
Blacks are reliable permanent pigments that are inexpensive and make nice pastels. Having said that, I advise you to rarely use them if you desire clean, bright-colored pastels. I only use Ivory Black if I want to produce a very deep-colored pastel. Without the black, these very dark values are difficult to achieve. If my aim is to produce intentionally grayed neutral tones, I also use a bit of black. My palette reflects my style of using color. Only a fraction of the pastels in my landscape set are grayed neutrals made with black pigment; neutral grays made by mixing complementary colors are far more varied and interesting. Cutting out black immediately perks up your palette and boost the color in your paintings."
Papers? You want something with a 'tooth' to it. Least expensive, Canson Mi Tientes. More $$, sanded papers like Wallis, Ampersand, Art Spectrum Colorfix and others. You can apply upwards of 20+ layers on the sanded papers. Check online at Dick Blick or Jerry's Artarama, or Cheap Joes. Locally in Worcester at C.C. Lowell's on Park Ave or in a pinch Michaels and A.C. Moore. Also you will need a piece of masonite or heavy foam core or sturdy cardboard to clip you paper to, and clips or masking tape. Painters tape doesn't perform well.
Check out Also, borrow a magazine on pastel painting to see if you get anything from it. Artists Magazine has articles.
I always use fresh fruit, vegetables and or flowers for a still life. You can't make a vibrant exciting still life with plastic or silk stuff-- my opinion. I usually include a piece of fabric and a piece of glass or metal. Later, we work on an animal portrait-a pet, perhaps, from a photo you have taken or have permission to use.
Border Collie
Never copy someone's work without permission. It is against the law. 
I will make this course material as inexpensive as I can but keep in mind, art supplies are not cheap.
Here's a chance to exersize the non logical side of your brain.